Medicalization of Women: Fixing the Fainting Woman, 1920

A historical fragment of the medicalization of women and the everyday practices of governing gender roles through “health treatment” in the early 20th century. Read in full here.

“There’s seems little more appealing to the false-chaste medical interests of 1920 England than helping fainting women, all to the betterment of social relations, clean houses and vibrant sexual partners.  The heritage of patriarchal piety’s rejection of sensual pleasure that was so common in England and Europe for many hundreds of years filed its way deeply into the 20th century.  Suspension of sexual discussion and understanding aside, it was well understood that women’s sexual nature was completely repressed unless in response to the pleasure of men.  It was a story of submission and subjugation, with all responsibilities for failed masculine sexuality falling to the shoulders of women (as clearly stated in the still-popular Stall’s marriage manual, a 19th century piece of rusty thinking still serving as the standard bearer in the early 20th century).  The manual is a codex of denial, submission, ignorance, boredom, tiredness, exasperation and triviality so far as sexuality is concerned for women–there is no hint of pride, or of enjoyment.”